North Korea’s leader said the entire U.S. mainland is within range of his weapons.
Kim Jong Un used his annual New Year’s Day speech on Monday to announce that he had a nuclear button on his desk, with the entire United States mainland within the range of his weapons.
But the North Korean leader said he would not use the weapons unless threatened.
“The United States should know that the button for nuclear weapons is on my table,” he said during the nationally televised speech, according to a provisional translation by The Associated Press. The entire U.S. mainland, he said, “is within our nuclear strike range.”
But Kim also said those weapons would not be used unless his country faced aggression, AP reported.
“This year, we should focus on mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment,” Kim said. “These weapons will be used only if our security is threatened.”
Dressed in a Western-style gray suit and tie, Kim said North Korea had been successful in “completing” its nuclear arsenal, complete with a nuclear button on his desk.
He said the U.S. “can never start a war against me and our country.”
North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September and recently launched its most high-tech intercontinental ballistic missile.
Asked about Kim’s nuclear claims, President Trump on Sunday night said, “We’ll see,” The Washington Post reported.
The annual new year’s address is closely watched for indications of the direction and priorities Kim may adopt in the year ahead.
Aside from his announcement on nuclear weapons, Kim also said military tensions on the Korean peninsula must be lowered, adding that he would consider sending a delegation to the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.
“North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to show unity of the people, and we wish the Games will be a success,” he said, according to a Reuters translation of the speech.
South Korean President Moon Jae In has proposed that Seoul and Washington postpone annual joint military drills until after the Olympics, The Post noted. South Korea’s presidential office said it welcomed the proposal to hold talks between government officials over the issue of North Korea sending a delegation to the Olympics.